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Sailing charity fined for lapses over sinking of radio show boat

A sailing charity has been fined for failing to secure safety measures after one of its boats sank while carrying three Downtown Radio broadcasters.

The Ocean Youth Trust Northern Ireland (OYTNI) was fined £250 at Coleraine Magistrates Court following an investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The prosecution arose after a boat owned by the OYTNI, called the Lord Rank, crashed and sank in June 2010.

It was carrying the three radio presenters at the time — Johnny Hero, Dougi Marshall and Robert Skates — as they broadcasted live from the vessel as part of a Downtown Radio charity fundraiser called Cash for Kids.

The radio station had employed the vessel for the event before it hit rocks near Ballycastle.

A solicitor representing the charity said it was pleading guilty to the charge of not operating the Lord Rank in a safe manner.

The charge also said the boat’s owner had failed to take all reasonable steps to secure the safe operation of the ship.

The OYTNI is a charity dedicated to giving young people from all walks of life a chance to experience sail training.

The crash alerted the Coastguard to issues with onboard safety within OYTNI, the court heard.

The skipper who had been in charge on June 8, 2010 when the vessel sank was later disqualified from sailing and an investigation into safety was carried out.

The court heard that the issue of poor log-keeping arose, along with concerns about risk assessment and book keeping.

The defence said discrepancies in log keeping by the previous skipper were evident, but this was a very minor breach of laws.

Chairman of OYTNI Enda O’Coineen said: “We thank all concerned and welcome the result. We are proud of our safety record and have taken over 10,000 young people to sea. There was nobody hurt in the incident and there was never a threat to life.”

Background

Six people were rescued after the boat they were sailing in hit rocks close to Ballycastle on June 8, 2010. Downtown Radio broadcasters Johnny Hero, Dougi Marshall and Robert Skates, who were using the boat for a charity event, were plucked to safety with three crew. The vessel was sailing towards Portrush when it ran aground and later sank.

Belfast Telegraph